May 162013
 

In March 2012 I wrote about SendHub, a platform for texting a group of people all at once. Cel.ly is a similar service with a free space for educators. Unlike SendHub, with Cel.ly, students do not see my phone number and I do not see their phone numbers.

When I started texting students en masse – first with SendHub, now with Cel.ly – I wasn’t sure what to think of it. Should I insist that the only acceptable means for electronic communication between students and me be email? Well, why? There are certain communications where email is appropriate, but sometimes a quick question/answer is better handled via text. Last week after class, I emailed my students a questionnaire that I wanted them to fill out and bring with them to class. I texted my students to tell them to check their email. At the same time I scheduled another text to go out a few days later asking if they had completed the questionnaire yet, and I scheduled another one to go out the morning of class reminding them to bring the completed questionnaire with them to class. This is more hands-on than I generally am with my students, but it was really important to me that they bring the completed questionnaire to class because of what I wanted to do during class time – and I didn’t want to spend class time waiting for students to complete the questionnaire.

I have to tell you, it’s a pretty powerful feeling to know that when I hit send on a text message to my class all of my students will likely be reading that message within seconds. Granted, may be doing it during class with one of my colleagues. In that case, Me: 1, Colleague: 0.

You could make use of the testing effect by periodically texting students questions relevant to your course material. Attach points to it or not. All correct responses received within 60 minutes earn one point with five points going to the best answer. Schedule the questions to go out at different times of the day so that students aren’t disadvantaged because you’re sending out questions when they’re always in Chemistry or, worse yet, driving home.

Let’s take a look at Cel.ly

While I wish that the Cel.ly interface looked a little more like it was for grown-ups, it is possible to do everything you need to do via text message (or the smartphone app) and never visit the website. If you use the website or the app, it’s intuitive. If you want to manage it all from your phone, you’ll need this list of commands. Of course you can mix and match. Use Cel.ly when you’re at your computer, but use the Cel.ly app or your text messaging app when you’re on the go.

In Cel.ly, you create different “cells.” You may have a cell, for example, for each of your classes, a cell for the club you advise, and a cell for your department.

Creating a cell

After creating a Cel.ly account, click on “cells” at the top of the screen. Click “start cell.”


In step one, choose a cell name.


In step 2 decide who can join. If you choose “restricted,” you can decide what sort of information you want the person to provide, such as a username or short bio. Or you can enter a password, so that only those with the password can join. My class cells are open. Who wants to get announcements for my class if they’re not actually in the class? Of course as the cell administrator, I can kick out whomever I’d like.


In step three decide how you want to manage texts that are coming and going. If you are using this for your class, curated chat is the safest bet. This is the setting I use for my classes. When students reply, the messages come to me privately. I can choose to respond to just that student or to the entire class.


In step four provide some information about your newly created cell.


How others can join your cell

Now when you click the “cells” link at the top of the page, you will see a link to your cell. This is the page for my new cell. In the share box on the right, you can see there are a couple ways people can join this cell. You can just give people the public link, in this case http://cy.tl/13wbDkr. Or you can give them the texting instructions below that. For my class cells, I put the texting directions on my syllabus. (You are welcome to join this cell to see how it works from a student perspective. It is easy to leave the cell when you are ready. Just reply to a text from the cell with the word stop in the body of the message.)


Receiving messages

In the top right corner, you see two orange buttons: “email on” and “sms on.” Every time a text is sent to this cell, you will get both an email message and text message (sms) by default. If you don’t want text messages sent to your email, click the “email on” button, and it will turn to “email off.” If you choose to not get messages to either email or text message, you’ll need to use the smartphone app or the web interface.


Sending messages

Messages can be sent from the Cel.ly web interface just by entering your message in the message box. Or you can send them from either the Cel.ly app or from your text messaging app. In the latter case, I would send a text message to 23559 with @SueFrantz in the message, and that message will be sent out to everyone in the cell. If I just wanted to send to one person, I would enter there Cel.ly @username.

Sending a poll

Clicking “send poll” in the web interface gives you this screen. Here I have the question set to close in 30 minutes or “when all members vote”.

This is a question I sent out to my students.

This is what it looked like in the Cel.ly app on my phone after two answers arrived.

This is what the final poll results looked like on the web interface.

When the poll closed, the results were automatically texted to everyone in the cell. This is what they looked like in text form.

Hashlinks

If you have separate cells for each of your courses, you might want to create a hashlink so you can communicate with both classes with one message. For example, if you have two sections of a course, and you have information you want to share with both sections, you can create a hashlink so any time you include that hashlink in the message, it will shared with students in both sections.

This “hashtag & links” box is on the right side of your cell’s page.

Click the “add hashlink” button to get this screen. Choose what other cell you want to link to your current cell. And then choose a hashtag. Let’s say that I had two cells, one for each section of a course. Let’s say that they are named @psycha and @psychb. I can create a hashtag, say #psy that will allow me to post to both cells with just one text message.


Receptors

You can add an RSS or Twitter feed, so that new content from that feed is texted to everyone in your cell. Here I’ve add my twitter feed so that any tweet I send out will automatically sent as a text message to everyone in the cell. Instead of sending out all tweets, I can add a “search filter,” like a twitter hashtag, so that only tweets from me that contain that hashtag will be sent out to everyone in the cell. (If you decide to join this cell just to see what it’s like, know that I’ve deleted this “receptor” – you won’t get a text message every time I tweet!)

Conclusion

Try it out. Encourage your students to join your class cell. You may discover all kinds of uses for it. Just don’t get too carried away with your new-found power!

 

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Feb 222013
 

Google Hangout is a quick and intuitive way to work with up to 9 others in a virtual environment. If you have a Google account, you can create a Hangout. Talk in real time over your computer’s microphone, see each other via webcam, and even share your desktop.

Starting a Hangout

In Gmail, you can click on the camera-in-the-callout box icon next to your photo to start a new Hangout.

Or if you look below your name, you’ll see your contacts that are currently available. Mouse over the ones with a video camera next to their names, and a card will popup. Click on the Hangout icon to start a Hangout and invite that person in one fell swoop.

You can also go to Google Plus and find the Hangout button in the top right corner of your screen.

After clicking “Start a hangout,” a screen pops up showing you some people you might choose to hang out with. Click on the top entry box to enter email addresses, names (if Google has them connected to you), or people you’re connected to in Google Plus, including entire circles if you’d like. Next give your Hangout a name, or not, and then click the “Hang out” button.

The Google Hangout window

Since I haven’t invited anyone, this isn’t very interesting. I’m going to “invite people,” specifically, my alter ego.

This is the invitation email that I received from myself. Everyone who is invited would get this email.

Now, this is a little weird, but there are two versions of me in this Hangout. This screenshot is taken from my computer. On my Xoom tablet, I’m in the Hangout using the Google Plus app.

When you enter a Hangout, your microphone and webcam are turned on by default. As soon as you enter, you can start talking. You can turn off the mic and webcam using the icons at the top of the screen.

If your participants are accessing your Hangout using a computer instead of a mobile device, your participants will have the same tools you have. Mobile devices do not have this toolbar – at least not as of this writing.

Click the chat button to open the chat window. The chat window will appear on the right side of the screen. No chat for mobile devices, either. To close chat, click the button again.

Click the screenshare button to share your screen. A window like this will pop up. Here I can choose to share my entire screen or just one of the programs that I have open. Mobile devices will show a screenshare, but mobile devices cannot share their screens. To stop sharing your screen, click the screenshare button again.

Click on Google effects to do things like add a snorkel and facemask to your own image. And, yes, the other people in the Hangout will see it, too. Just click on what you’d like to add, and the object will automatically be added to your image. Click the object again to turn it off, or click the “Remove all effects” button at the bottom of the effects panel. To close the Google effects panel, click the Google effects button again.

 

Now before you dismiss this as totally frivolous, at Klutz Press, at one time anyway, they said that any time there were disagreements among the employees, the employees in question had to put on Groucho Marx glasses before discussing the issue in question. I sincerely hope that they really did this – and that they still do. Picture using this technique virtually with a self-destructing student group. Or with those two faculty members in your department who are renowned for their bickering at each other.

It certainly seems like it would help keep people from taking themselves too seriously.

When you’re done laughing, let’s get back to work. Click on Google Drive to collectively edit a Google Drive file or open a new document for notes or even a sketchpad to draw on. Unfortunately someone using the app on a mobile device won’t be able to see your Google Drive documents. To switch off Google Drive, click the “Google Drive” button again.

Click on View more apps to discover other nifty additions. I just added Symphonical. It’s a drag and drop task organizer. When you have your plan together, email a copy to everyone. It’s tied to your account so the next time you go into a Hangout and open Symphonical, it will be there. Have more than one project? Click the green “Add wall” button in the top left corner. Adding Symphonical to a Hangout will automatically get you access to your walls at Symphonical.com. You’ll get an email from them about that. And, no, this doesn’t show up in the mobile app either.

Try it out

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Feb 212013
 

Did you know that you can ‘import’ a gmail message into a new Google calendar event? Did you know that what most of us call appointments, Google calls events? “I have an event scheduled with my dentist.” That makes it sound way more serious than an annual checkup should sound.

I don’t really know what ProjectX is, but it certainly sounds worthy of the “event” designation, however.

Here I’ve received a message about needing to meet to discuss ProjectX in my gmail account. When I click on the “More” button, I get a dropdown menu where I can select “Create event.”

This generates a new Google calendar appointment, where the subject line of the email becomes the subject line of the new event and the body of the message becomes the event description. The time and date default to just minutes from now so I need to manually change those. Google also includes me, the person who sent me the message, and anyone who was also included in the message as guests to the event. If you don’t want them as guests, click the “x” to the right of each person’s name to delete them.

Click save. Now you have the meeting agenda in your calendar.

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Jan 212013
 

I use Phrase Express for all of my canned response needs (see this post, for example), but for those of you who just want canned responses in Gmail, check out this Google Labs option.

Enabling Canned Responses

In Gmail, go to settings by clicking on the cog icon on the far right, and select “Settings”.

Click on the “Labs” tab.

Scroll down to “Canned Responses” and check “Enable”.

Creating a Canned Response

Compose a new email. Type up whatever you’d like to save as a response.

Click on “Canned responses”.

Add a “New canned response…”. Selecting it generates a popup that asks you to name it. I’ll call it “rude email”

Click “OK”.

Using Canned Responses

Now when you compose a new message and want to use that canned response, click on “Canned responses” to see the menu. The headings (Insert, Save, and Delete) are light, too light, in my opinion; I thought they were disabled options. Under the “insert” heading, click “Rude email” and watch the magic as your canned response appears.

Want to change your canned response? Edit it, then click “Canned responses”, and under the “Save” heading, click “Rude email”.

Repeat the process to add more canned responses.

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Dec 052012
 

Quick Tech Tip for Gmail users.

Want to quote just part of an email message in your reply instead of the entire message?

Highlight the text you want, and then click the reply button or tap the ‘r’ key on the keyboard. Only the highlighted text will be quoted in your reply.

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Nov 222012
 

Since I wrote about Join.me in February 2011, the developers have added some new features. For those who missed that post, Join.me is a desktop sharing application. Run Join.me, and the program generates a URL. Share that URL with whomever you’d like, and they will see your computer’s desktop in their web browser.

In the free version of Join.me, you use your computer’s microphone to talk with those who are seeing your desktop.  To listen, use headphones, not your computer’s speakers. If you use your speakers, it will sound okay to you, but the others who are participating will hear an echo of their voices. The sound from your speakers is picked up by your microphone so anyone who is speaking will hear their voice through their headphones. If you want conference calling over the phone, sign up for Join.me Pro. Or use FreeConference.com. Or Speek.com.

Multiple monitor support

The center icon in the Join.me toolbar has been changed from a pause button to a monitor. Clicking on it still pauses your screen. Let’s say you want to do something on your screen without everyone seeing it, pause freezes your screen for everyone who is watching, but you still retain full control.

Clicking the down arrow under the monitor icon is magical if you are running dual monitors. Click on “Switch screen”. An orange outline will appear around your screen to show that you are currently sharing, say, monitor 1. Mouse over to your second monitor, and the orange outline will move with you. Click anywhere on that screen to share it. Repeat the process to move back to monitor 1. Okay, maybe it’s not magical, but it is pretty cool.

Mobile app (Android/iOS)

Visit Google Play/App Store, to add the free Join.me app to your smartphone or tablet. Run the app, and enter the 9-digit code (hyphens are added automatically). If you view someone’s screen from the app, you join the audio as a conference call via a phone number and access code (pro version is not required). The other limitation is that you do not have the option to control the computer screen you’re viewing. You can only look, not touch.

Teaching tip

I have an engineering colleague who teaches in a computer classroom where each student station has dual monitors. During class, the professor runs Join.me, and his students watch his screen in the web browser via Join.me on one monitor while they do the same steps on the other monitor.

How are you using Join.me?

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Oct 012012
 

NetClick.mobi is a new, free, web-based clicker system. After uploading a pdf, students can see the pdf on their web-enabled devices. Students tap (mobile) or click (computers) on the screen to vote.

This is what it looks like for a typical multiple choice question.

On this question, I asked, “Which scatterplot represents a positive correlation?”

Setting it up.

After creating an account on the NetClick.mobi website, I need to upload some pdfs. The developers suggest saving PowerPoints as pdfs and just using NetClick.mobi to do the presentation. I have two problems with that. 1.) I use animations. Rather than have 7 slides, I gradually click through to reveal content on one slide. When converted to pdf, all of the content appears on one slide. There’s no way to reveal as I go. That turned out to be a pretty solvable problem. PPTSpliT is a PowerPoint add-in that will, well, split all the slides that have animations into their own individual slides. After the split, save the PowerPoint to a new file, and then save the file as a pdf. 2.) The second problem was more of an issue. My PowerPoints contain hyperlinks. Plus I like PowerPoint’s presenter view which allows me to see my notes and easily jump to other slides. (See this blog post for more about presenter view.) That all is lost in a pdf.

For now, I have pulled the slides I’d like my students to click on into their own PowerPoint files and saved them as pdfs. I’ll use PowerPoint as I normally do, and then switch to my web browser for the interactive content.

NetClick.mobi makes it easy to upload files. After logging into my NetClick.mobi account, I just drag my pdf into the “drop zone.”

Running it in class.

All of my uploaded files appear like this. I just hit the play button (bottom, right) when I’m ready to run it in class. I run my PowerPoint slides, then hit ALT-TAB (on my PC keyboard) to switch to my browser. I press ALT-TAB again to return to my PowerPoint presentation.

This is what appears in my browser window. Students go to NetClick.mobi. If they are on a mobile device, they’ll be immediately prompted to enter the access code, the six letters prominently displayed at the top of the page; JNZNAF, in this case. On a computer, students need to click on a tab labeled “Slideshow” in order to enter the code.

This is what it looks like on mobile devices. The blue dot is where a student has tapped. Notice the different access code. Every time NetClick.mobi runs, a different access code is generated.

To show student responses, I tap on the eye icon at the top of the browser window. This also locks student responses.

When I’m ready to move on to the next slide, I can click on the arrow keys at the top of the browser window, press enter on the keyboard, or use the keyboard arrow keys.

After class.

If I’d like to revisit student responses after class, say, for assessment purposes, I can go back to the main screen, and for the pdf I’m interested in, click on the people icon. NetClick.mobi automatically created these files; I didn’t need to save anything when I was done with my presentation.

This will show me the dates and times I’ve run the pdf. Clicking on the double-square icon allows me to look at the student responses for each slide.

Comparison to Socrative.

I like that NetClick.mobi allows for images. When showing a neuron for example, I can ask students to tap on the dendrites or tap on the section that releases neurotransmitters. You’ll notice that on the mobile view there are icons for a pencil, letter, and an arrow; all are greyed out. I suspect these are placeholders that portend future functionality.

Socrative allows me to collect student names on premade quizzes. NetClick.mobi (currently?) is completely anonymous.

If idle too long on student devices, students have to re-enter the code to see the screen.

NetClick.mobi is built using HTML5, so it’s limited to browsers that can handle it. Opera on mobile devices will not work. Firefox, Chrome, and Safari all seem to work just fine.

Have a favorite?

Do you have a favorite free, web-based clicker system?

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Mar 242012
 

New data from the Pew Internet and American Life Project finds “63% of all teens say they exchange text messages every day with people in their lives. This far surpasses the frequency with which they pick other forms of dailycommunication, including phone calling by cell phone (39% do that with others every day), face-to-face socializing outside of school (35%), social network site messaging (29%), instant messaging (22%), talking on landlines (19%) and emailing (6%).”

Next quarter I’m trying out SendHub, a group texting service. This will allow me to text all of my students at once. Students can sign up by texting a word I’ve given them to the phone number SendHub has assigned to me.

In the free version, you can have up to three groups with up to 50 people per group, and send up to 1,000 messages per month. (One text sent to 50 contacts counts as 50 messages.)

To send a message to my students, in the “To:” line I start typing the name of the relevant group, and SendHub gives me everything that matches what I’ve typed. Then I type my text message. If I’d like to schedule it to be delivered at some later time, I can click “Schedule Delivery.” Finally, I click “Send.”

To create a group, on the “Contacts” tab, click the “New” button on the left. Type in your group name. If you’d like your students to be able to add themselves to this group via text, check the box next to “Enable Text to Join.” Enter a keyword. This is what your students will text to your SendHub number to join the group. The keyword defaults to your group name, but you can change it to whatever you’d like. Don’t worry about whether some other SendHub user is using that keyword. Since students are texting to your SendHub phone number, SendHub knows that the student belongs to you.

To unsubscribe a student, you can do it by selecting “All Contacts,” clicking the checkbox next to the student’s name, and selecting “Delete.” A student can unsubscribe by replying to any text from your SendHub number with the word “stop.”

To access your settings click the cog icon in the top right corner.

In the “Plan” section, track your usage.

If someone calls your SendHub number, the call will be forwarded to the phone number you have on record (“My Number”). If you don’t want the call forwarded, check the box next to “Disable voice.” Want to add a signature to your texts? Add it in the “Signature” box.

If you send out a text to your class, and a student responds, you will receive the text at the number you have on record. Texts back to you in this way will count against the 1,000 free texts, however. If you don’t want to receive texts through SendHub, check the box next to “Disable Incoming Messages.” If you disable incoming messages, add an auto-response that will be sent to everyone who texts this number, something like, “This number does not accept texts. Email me at…”

When you’re done with your changes, click the “Save” button at the bottom of the page.

Are you using text messaging to communicate with your students? Why or why not?

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Mar 052012
 

Live blogging from EDUCAUSE’s session on the Horizon Report. The Horizon Report “review[s] various emerging technologies likely to have a significant impact on teaching, learning, or creative expression over the next five years and highlight how institutions across the world are implementing these technologies.”

View the audio recording, slides, and transcript. View the report and other resources on the Horizon Report wiki.

**********

Wrapping up.

The presenters encourage people to use the Horizon Report as a leaping off point for discussion on our campuses about emerging technologies and what we can do to prepare for and take advantage of those technologies. Much, much to think about.

 

11:20am

More trending technologies.

#5 – Gesture-based computing. Includes touch, such as touching a touch screen, and motion, such as Kinnect. Must be intuitive to use and the computer response to gesture must be pretty immediate.

Very useful for addressing accessibility issues.

 

#6 – Internet of things. These are objects that connect to the internet on their own. Google’s driverless car is an example. Check out the Internet of Things Comic Book.

 

11:08 am

To learn more about learning analytics, visit the Society for Learning Analytics Research.

 

11:00am

More on learning analytics.

 

10:57am

More trending technologies.

#4 – Learning analytics. Both summative and formative. With formative analytics, can we make changes mid-stream to increase student success?

 

10:49am

More trending technologies.

#3 – Gamification of education. Check out this infographic.

 

10:41am

Trending technologies.

#1 – Mobile apps. Created by both educational institutions and private companies. “iPhone and Android have redefined what we mean by mobile computing.”

What do students want in mobile technology? More content, more help in using it, streamlining access to the content.

#2 – Tablet computing. Tablets are being used by users to supplement smartphones, not replace them.

How are they being used? Digital textbooks, campus services apps, library navigation apps.

 

10:32am

What are the current trends in teaching and learning in higher education?



Drawings: David Sibbert, The Grove International

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Mar 042012
 

A group of psychological scientists have identified 25 principles of learning. Of those 25, this group identified 9 to explore in greater depth as they relate to instruction. In this series of posts, I’ll look at each in turn, discussing some of the relevant technologies that can be used to take advantage of those principles.

The first in the list: “The single most important variable in promoting long-term retention and transfer is ‘practice at retrieval’—learners generate responses, with minimal retrieval cues, repeatedly, over time.” In short, if students are going to be able to retrieve what they learned later they have to practice retrieving now (the testing effect), and they have to space out that retrieval (the spacing effect). Practicing retrieval for 4 hours straight is not as effective as spacing those 4 hours out over the course of a couple weeks or more.

The authors make 4 recommendations.

  1. “During lectures, ask students questions to elicit responses that reflect understanding of previously introduced course material. This serves the dual purpose of probing students’ knowledge, so that misconceptions can be directly and immediately addressed in the lecture.”

    Ways to do this.

    1. 4-question technique. Dietz-Uhler and Lanter (2009) found improvement in quiz scores by asking students four questions following an in-class activity.
      1. “Identify one important concept, research finding, theory, or idea in psychology that you learned while completing this activity.”
      2. “Why do you believe that this concept, research finding, theory, or idea in psychology is important?”
      3. “Apply what you have learned from this activity to some aspect of your life.”
      4. “What question(s) has the activity raised for you? What are you still wondering about?”
    2. Fill-in-the-blank, content-based questions. Gier and Kreiner (2009) found improvement on exam scores when students were periodically asked to respond to fill-in-the-blank questions over course material during class.
    3. End-of-class questions. Lyle and Crawford (2011) found improvement on exam scores in a stats class when their students were asked to respond, unassisted, to a few questions over the day’s material at the end of class.


    Useful tech tools.

    1. Pen and paper. There is nothing wrong with this old school technology. Depending on the size of your class and how often your class meets, you could be wrangling a lot of paper.
    2. Student response systems. If you don’t currently use a system. Try Socrative (max 50 students, free). This tool is easy to use and allows both multiple choice and short answer questions. The data is downloadable via an Excel spreadsheet.
    3. Forms in Google Docs (read more about how to use this feature). Give students the URL to the form via a link on a website or in your course management system, a shortened URL (I recommend goo.gl), or a QR code for your mobile users (read more about QR codes). Students enter their names, their email addresses, their class time, and then whatever questions you’d like them to answer about the course material. The data is dumped into a spreadsheet that you can download from Google Docs. When I do this, I add a column for my comments and a column for my grade. Then I create a form letter in Word, link it to my spreadsheet, and do a mail merge to send my feedback to students (read more about mail merge here).

       

  2. “On homework assignments, have students retrieve key information from lectures and readings. Chapter summaries, for instance, may include study questions that ask students to recall major points or conclusions to be drawn from the reading.”

    Useful tech tools.

    1. Forms in Google Docs (read more about how to use this feature). For each reading assignment, I ask students to answer four questions. The first two questions cover the content. Question 3 asks what was the most difficult part of the reading and what questions they may have. Question 4 asks what was the most interesting thing they read. I use the mail merge procedure discussed above to send my feedback to students. This is my first quarter using this approach. On the first exam, I saw no difference in exam scores compared to last quarter. I saw a statistically significant jump in exam scores on the second exam – a full letter grade. In my perception, students wrote more and wrote better responses during the second section of the course leading up to the second exam. That may be due to my feedback, to my asking better content questions that require more synthesis of information, or to something else entirely.
    2. Word documents. If your students submit assignments by attaching them to email messages that you get in Outlook, I highly recommend SimplyFile, an Outlook add-in (read more here), to quickly file the messages in a folder so they’re out of your inbox. And then use EZDetach, another Outlook add-in (read more here), to save all of the attachments with student email address and student name appended to the filename to your “grade these” folder.

       

  3. “Encourage group studying in which students actively discuss course topics. In these groups, students have an opportunity to explain difficult course concepts to one and another, engaging in ‘practice at retrieval.'”

    Useful tech tools.

    1. Doodle (read more here). A lot of students say they’d like to form study groups, but they don’t quite know how to do it. Create a Doodle poll that asks students to mark the times they’re available for a study group. Students can see who is available when they’re available. Let the students take the initiative to contact those other students.
    2. TitanPad (read more here). For students whose schedule or location makes it difficult to get together, they could use this tool to explain concepts in their own words or provide their own examples. Groups of students can work together on the same ‘pad’. With the time slider feature, you can easily see who contributed what and when if you’d like to assign a participation grade.
    3. Google+ hangouts with video or Skype. These are good tools for students who’d like to get together to study at a particular time, but are unable to be in the same place.

  4. “As with probing questions during lectures, test questions offer another opportunity for ‘practice at retrieval,’ thus, potentially enhancing knowledge of the material being tested. Ideally tests should be cumulative and test items should probe for understanding of the material.”

     

    In terms of test performance, it doesn’t matter if you give a paper-and-pencil test or a computer-based test (Frein, 2011). Whichever you use, I encourage you to look at how your students perform on each question. If a lot of students missed the question, what incorrect answer did they choose? This will give you valuable information about common misconceptions.

Whatever changes you decide to make in your course, I strongly encourage you to track the impact your changes have made on student learning, however it is you choose to measure it. Your institution may be interested for their assessment reports to their accreditors, and I encourage you submit your results for publication in a peer-reviewed journal or a conference that’s interested in the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL). This site provides some resources for locating those journals and conferences.

 

References

Dietz-Uhler, B. & Lanter, J. R. (2009). Using the four-questions technique to enhance learning. Teaching of Psychology, 36(1), 38-41. doi:10.1080/00986280802529327

Frein, S.T. (2011). Comparing in-class and out-of-class computer-based tests to traditional paper-and-pencil tests in Introductory Psychology courses. Teaching of Psychology, 38(4), 282-287). doi: 10.1177/0098628311421331

Giers, V. S. & Kreiner, D. S. (2009). Incorporating active learning with powerpoint-based lectures using content-based questions. Teaching of Psychology, 36(2), 134-139. doi:10.1080/00986280902739792

Lyle, K.B. & Crawford, N.A. (2011). Retrieving essential material at the end of lectures improves performance on statistics exams. Teaching of Psychology, 38(2), 94-97. doi:
10.1177/0098628311401587

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